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tv   John Mc Laughlins One on One  PBS  October 30, 2011 9:00am-9:30am PDT

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the ages. the burst of genius starting in 1905, the 26-year-old patent clerk revolutionized science with a series of papers on light, gravity and relativity, culminating with his discovery that matter and energy are equal. this made him the first celebrity scientist of the 207b8g century and a cultural icon. today, einstein's image is used disney educational toys to apple computers and fujifilms. does this commercialization obscure or worse demean
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einstein's legacy? we'll review einstein's life and put that question to einstein experts alice and bert. captions by: caption colorado, llc (800) 775-7838 @ e- mail: ♪ [music] ♪ [music] ♪ if. for such a small if i live to a hundred. if social security isn't enough. if my heart gets broken. if she says yes. we believe if should never hold you back. if should be managed with a plan that builds on what you already have. together we can create a personal safety net, a launching pad, for all those brilliant ifs in the middle of life. you can call on our expertise and get guarantees for the if in life.
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after all, we're metlife. ♪[music] ♪ welcome. >> thank you. >> we are celebrating the 100th@anniversary, the sennennary of albert einstein's burst of scientific discovery. what is it exactly that we are salung? i k you, dr. robert shulman? >> we're celebrating this incredib burst of creativity that he showed in1905. we also are celebrating the fact that he, in essence, came from nowhere and put his stamp on 20th century physics, in this, a humble patent clerk is an achievement that is probably unparalleled certainly in this
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20th century. >> he becamea celebrity scientist and an icon, and he has affeed the popular culture. can you tell us about@that,@ >> he became an icon i think not until 1919 after his general thry of relativity was proven to be correct by some british astronomers and he after that. wide fameright >> so the scientific legacy is really the genesis of all the re? >> is that correct? and he was very outspoken lar on, on political situations and social situations with the state of israel. >> what was remarkable about discovery? was it method as well as >> it was a matter method. i mean, one thg thank's fascinating about him is at that time when he made his
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scoveries, was, as i said before, a humblepat earnt clerk. there are two legends, one was working four hours on his patent application and fou" hours on his work that he came out with in 1905. the other theory is he he was working on it eight hours a@day under the table. it's unclear, both of those of legends. but the method, one thing that we've lea"ned from the love letters is that he was well aware of the literature, read all of the primary sources from contemporary and soin one sense he comes from nowhere and on the other nd he's someone who is wl versed in the physics of the day. >> this is one of the volumes you were able to produce. tell usabout@is. >> this is volume seven which cocors the period from the -- the first world war. series that we worked on is two
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series, writings and corrndence. this is the -- these@are the writings. this is also the critical period where he stops stewing or where he not@only does science but also does litical work. >> i don't see any footnotes in his original drafts of his formula. no footnotes. he had no -- he dealt in pure >> well, did he do foottes but one of the spectacular things about the 1905 per, the most famous moving bodies, it has almost no equations. the initial period of einstein's creativity has a heavy fill so thetical basis so when you say it's pure thought that really rings true because it is not -- there is no elaborate mathematical system to it or mathematical structure to it. >> he wrote a painer in 1905
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and he discovered that light waves are really particles and that light waves curve. and that had an impact, did it not, on quantum physics. and it had an impact on ape lot invented since then. >> and his paper on relativity blew isaac newton out of the water in isaac newton's, what, 200 year acceptance of his formula with regard to weight and space and light, gravity? >> that really apies more to general@relativity, so i mean blowing newton out of the water as the "new york times" said heaven's all askew. einstein surpasses newton. that really is for the general relativitywhich is papers that he did at the end of 1915,
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1916. moving bodies, his specl theory of relativity establishes the equivalence of mass and energy. thisis the famous e equals mc squared equation that later falsely claimed to make him the father of the atomic bomb. >> e stands for energy, m stands for mass. the small c is a. >> speed of light. >> a term of science. the c itself is the speed of light and you square the speed of light and then matter and matter becomes interchangeable with -- >> energy. >> with energy. >> yes. >> and this of urse is at a very basic level the secret to the atomic bomb. he, of course, rejected with i@ think completely correctly rejected the idea that he had
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pa trntty of the atomic bomb. he had nothing to do with that p"ogram, but he did come up with the equation and soaked in. >> that isn't quite true, though,it? >> he could not see what the equation produced. >> he wrote a letter to roosevelt and said that uranium is susceptible to the atomic power in so many words. th could be done by others. that was s-ggested in a letter, correct? and that led@roosevelt to form a committee. th committee would then assemble in the manhattan project. now as i read einstein, he's very careful to say i didn't do any of at. he didn't. he wasn't involved in the project directly but he planted the seeds in roosevelt to get with it and get on with atomic power for military use because others were gonna do it. >> he was afraid -- >> isn't that true? >> yes.
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>> he was afraid the germans might be able to develop a weapon, but i don't think he knew exactly what kind of a one thing he did not understand and he says that. he did not understand the chain reaction. chain reaction was brought into being by the four scientists who werewho? >> talking about oppenheimer, salard. this wasthen t"ansferred to los alamos. >> the original four were fermie, text ellah and they form roosevelt's coittee. then they participed with oppenheimer, did e9 not on the manhattan project? >> certainly salard did not. risk. was considered a security so he s kept out of los alamos. feramie was heavily involved. if i could just say one thing about what you just said, the committee that was formed after einstein wrote the letter in
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august of 39 had the so-cled lyman briggs committee had a very unhappy existence. the ame"icans really only picked up on the atomic bomb research after the british and the tube alloy program in england, shortly before pearl harbor suggested the nuclear fissn was possible. at that point, the americ program@really took fire. >> to elaborate a little bit more what einstein said about this, this is from your book, recordable einstein. great volume, by the way. >> thank you. lú>> a lot of surprising terial in here as to indication of the range -- asyou pointed out. was a multi-disciplinarian. he was not in the narrow boards in today whe"e ey bore down e and wn in a relatively small area. he was able to interrelate. he was able to connect. he saw -- huh?
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>> he saw the connections. >> this is what you quote him as saying. "i do not conside" myself the father of the release. my father was quite indirect. i did not in fact foresee that it would be released in my lifetime. i beeve only that it was theoretically possible. it became practical only through the accidental discovery of a chain reaction. this was not something i could have predicted." >> yeah. >> it's a chain reaction that he didn't see. but he saw the atomic power was therep. >> he saw the possibilities of that, yes, and this is why he wantedto warn roosevelt. he he was afraid the germans would develop the bomb and then the united states would have no way of defending itself. >> did roosevelt have him in for dinner? >> he had him to the white house, yeah. >> he was at the white house, not on that occasion. >> with wives? >> yes. it was soon after he came in 1933 and elsa was with him. >> wasn't there an invitation
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that ein si that who? so hewouldn't go to thewhite house? >> yeah. >> why wouldn't@he want him to go to@the white hoe? >> he was going to lack after einstein like a mother hen? >> was itas simple as that? >> no. >> no? >> i think it was also he's afraid of einstein's one of the things that we admire so much about him that hespoke his mine. i think flecksner was worried about that, also. >> so he's not the father the atomic bomb? >> i think one thing that should be de clear -- >> was he the catalyst of e atomic bomb? >> he really didn't knowmuch about nuclear physics. he didn't know much about the subatomic particles. >> he discovered them. >> no, he discovered the at tom. he discovered the mechanics of the at tom. >> and molecules. >> that's right. but i mean, that's a completely >> you mean level of discovery?
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>> yes. yes. the actual production of the n bomb? >> we're not even sure that he knew in 1932 when koffroff discovered the pro ton thathe he was aware of that. >> so he was a commanding geus and there's been no equal to him over the course of the entire century. that safe to say? you think he is fully appreciated for what he was? what he was? >> what he was? yes. >> do you think he's fully appreciated today? do you think if you asked students today why is einstein important they're not gonna tell you it's because of his >> i think many understand what he's famous for and what his physics has meant to scientists and engineers since we made his
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discovery. >> are e not seeing an einstein reappraisal that is far reaching? einstein seminars around the world? a semil figure for science and advance of our technology? from him you get some say even the computer. you get a whole series of imputed involvements of einstein, satellites, lasers, photocopies, television, telecommunication, nuclear power, true? >> i think that in part einstein's image has overwhelmed the person, and it's something that i think he would be very unhappy about. >> is there a reappraisal of great significance going on worldwide about einstein's accomplishments and his genius? >> certaly with spect to cosmology. so these kinds of thin ]- >> you talking astrophysics
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here? >> i'm not talking it, i'm describing it. >> you mean onthe impact of this on what? on the universe? >> yes. >> so i mean, less so i think that in the re appraisal of his contributions to technology than it@ that he may have been right about certain phenomenon where the mizzickists are still working on a general of everything, einstein's news are coming into new scrutiny. >> you're talking avity, space and time? >> yes. >> is there any harm done by the marketing of einstein's image of automobiles, computers, mineral@ter, neckties, mugs, t-shi"ts, even action figures? einstein himself deplored e use of his image as a commercial endorsement. but we'll put that question to our guests. first, however, here is an es sceeth on albert einstein.
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born 1879, germany. the earliest known photograph of einstein believed to have been taken in munich in the 18s. einstein's father herman, einstein's mother pauline koch. einstein and his sister are maya about 1893. einstein at the age of 17. einstein in the classroom in switzerland, his teacher. toward the end of the 19th century. einstein at the swiss patent office burned in the early 1900s. einstein and his first wife taken in 1911 when both were in their early 30s. einstein and his wife meleva and their son hans albert, 1904. einstein and max plank, the originator of the quantum theory which played a key part in the devevepment of
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einstein's theories. einstein and his second wife einstein in middle age as institute,erlin. einsteinon the cover of berlina, december 14, 1919. a new great figure in world history. einstein in winston churchill on the grounds of country home 1933. einstein on the day following his arrival at princeton institute of advanced studies, october 1933. signing the letter to franklin delano roosevelt,a reconstructed set piece photo of the 1939 warning to president roosevelt from einstein about the dangerous possibilities of others developing nuclear weapons. einstein and his wife elsa in pasadena during one of his visits to the california
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institute of technology. in 1945, almost overnight, einstein became the conscience of the world. he wrote, spoke and broadcast throughout the last ten years of his life. einstein and several famous american physicists gathered in princeton, new jersey to launch an appeal for $1million to educate americans on implications of nuclear fission. portrait of albert einstein, 1879 to 1955. 76 years of age. that's a lot in those photographs that we can cue off and discuss, but before we do that, did einstein make any commercial endorsements to allow his likeness to be used for marketing purposes that you are aware of? alice? by the way, alice, i should point out that you've done the quotable einstein? you also have a volume here of albert einstein's letrs to and from children. tell us about that a little
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bit. >> well, it's a collection of letters that children had written to einstein. there are about 50 or 60 lette"s on all kinds of topics.@ they also included the answers to some of the letters. he wasn't ab to swer all of the letters. some of them are fairly trivial and reire no answer, but he did his best. >> you also produced the einstein almanac which goes year by year right up to 1955, is that correct? >> yes. >> and you also point out in 1955 early in the year russell approached einstein asking him to issue a joint statement declaring thata nuclear r there there would be no winners or losers, only a permanent state of catastrophe. signed april 11 and returned it to russell. with it, he sent a short letter. you speak to that? i ask you, robert. >> well, the -- is was seven days before he died.
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i think he died before the letter reached russell. this thenbecame the toh stone for the pugwash conferences to control internationally the use@of nuclear weapons. >> you mean, to put the genie back in the bottle? >> less to put the nie back in the bottle than to control@ the genie. well, put it back to the bottle. >> that didn't work, d it? >> no, there are still discussions of giving up some national sovereignty. this was something that was people, but that was the gist of his id. >> if roosevelt hadn't gotten into the act here there would be no atomic bomb. there would be no atomic bomb in the second world war. >> we now have a new book in germany which suggests that the germans not only aiseerg was the german high comantd were workg. so it's conceivable at that which einstein fea"ed, e development by the germans that
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a nuclear weapon might have happened. >> can you account for the extreme@distaste einstein felt for his@countrymen, he being german himself? he rely disliked the germans. why? >> well, he disliked them mainly because oftheir author thern d military ntality, especially when he was growing up as a child during the time and he was such an independent minded and free-spirited boy that he he found such authority oppressing to him. >> have they despite the fact this einstein disliked the germans for those reasons have theyembraced them? i went to berlin and the streets that the bookindicates that he was -- that he lived on is not accurate. the streets were changed.
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i finally found where he lived. and that's a park outside ouse inditing he lived there. it was not easy to get to. is he now being@hidden? >> quite the ntrary. >> quite the contrary? >> if i could disagree with my colleague a bit, einstein s very favo"able to germany until the nazis came to power. tha$ is to say he certainly i@ had writes -- >> what he writes about his school year's written in 1955 seen throhoutprism already of what the nazis have done. >> he feared the third reich,that right? >> he not only feared it, he wrote many appeals then d-ring the r saying that e germans had descended to a lel. >> don't you think this really goes a@litt beyond thatjust the@third reich? >> it's the elimination what's now called the holocaust, which@ was then the genocide against the jews. >> isn't there something else
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about the german psyche,@the german temperament? is it because he experienced what, a extremely disciplined >> i mean, i rely don't think -- >> and e holocaust. >> his childhood was a rather pleasant one. he does say of course there was a peculiar antisemitism in the students but that there was not -- that this didn't bother him that is the period of the eing nazi rule that completely disenchanted him. >> on the marketing of the genius einstein, he sets the stage himself for the commercialization of his image when he bequeathed his papers to the hebrew universit9 of jerusalem because the hebrew university of jesalem now
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engages a beverly hills licensing agency run attorney robert richmond to sell the rights to the use of einstein's image. the proceeds go to the university. am i right on that? >> yes. >> now, despite the fact that einstein himself had this to say about commercial endorsements. "it is -- is it not a sad meantair commenta on the commercialitn and i must add e corruption of our time that business firms make these offers with wanting to insult me? it evident i had means this form of corruption for corruption itis, is widespread." that makes it clear thatathe didn't want his name usedon any products, correct? >> he did not in his lifetime. i guess he had no control. >> he wanted to give it to the university, probly the
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central thing in his life. i don't think he imagined in his wildest dreams that it would turn into a corn that cope yaof endorsements. do you think hebrew university in jerusalem is exploiting einstein's image? >> i thk they are, shall i say, capitalizing on it. einstein's image to be ing commercialized? >> apparently, they ha the right to do it ifthey want to. >> you think they have it in the light of what einstein himself said about the corruption involved, the commercial endorsements? >> well, his will did not specify, i ink that they cannot do this, and i don't think he foresaw that ey would actually do this and fire an agencyto sell his image. >> is there any harm done by the marketing of einstein's
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image? >> i think that einstein is untouchable in e sense that his true commit -- true achievements both in physics and in the political sphere are safe from this kind of in a wa9, he towers so far above the commercialization that i don't@ink that it-- >> is it like the branding of any@corporate image that's hammered into the american psyche in this particular instance that popular culture takes over and soon the image replaces the reality behind it. >> that's probably true. >> is thatdeplorable? >> in some ways it is, yeah. >> sorry. >> on the other hand it also keeps his work alive and his contribution. einstein married? >> he was married twice and each time for 17 years. >> what happened dung those@ marriages? d he have any additional
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liaisons? >> not during his fit marriage until he met the -- or he reacquainted himself with his cousin elsa. >> we haven't really discussed that. we haven't diussed einstein the man. we'll do that in part two of this program.
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